Carolyn Wells is the girls’ first Barbee-Q-Babe. Our baseball hats are off to her for everything that she has done to promote barbecue, the barbecue cook-off circuit, and most importantly, educate people about the difference between barbecue and grilling. If you don’t know the difference, here is Carolyn’s definition.
Barbeque a.k.a. barbecue, BBQ, Q, ‘que and who knows what else: Slow cooked over a low-heat using smoke from natural wood. Barbecue can be used as a noun, verb and adjective. It is a destination, a meal, a sandwich, a party, a cooking technique and a descriptor for almost anything cooked outdoors, charred or smoky…you get the point.
Grilled: Food cooked over high-heat for a short period of time to sear the outside and quickly cook the inside. Grill-roasting over indirect heat falls somewhere between classic grilling and barbecue.
Note: The girls are both KCBS certified judges and know the difference between the two but sometime use the terms interchangeably because it is popularly accepted to mean the same thing. But the more people who know the difference, the less that will be.
“It all started one night with a few friends, a few drinks and a few laughs,” is how Carolyn Wells describes how she co-founded the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) 17 years ago. Since then, she has traveled the four corners of the USA and points beyond spreading the gospel of American regional barbecue—or at least Kansas City style barbecue. And that pretty well covers it because she says, “if it moves, we cook it in Kansas City.”
A native of Tennessee, she came to be the Queen Mother of ‘Que quite accidentally while working at Wicker Barbecue Products Co. The company makes a marinade that is so popular, they sell it literally—by the gallon--in gallon jugs. “Wickers” is the secret ingredient for many barbecue cook-off contestants. She must have known this all along because she and her husband, Gary, had already won several barbecue cook-offs and were getting a reputation as experts in the field. So, it seems natural that she would take it under her wing to nurture the KCBS from infancy of 100 members in their first year to 3,500 this year. Since the beginning, Carolyn has published The Bullsheet, so named because the founding members thought that there was a lot of BS associated with BBQ. “TheBullsheet is a clearinghouse for barbecue information,” says Carolyn. We are dedicated to promoting barbecue and having fun while doing so. We barbecuers are a sort of subculture. Instead of going fishing, we barbecue. Instead of playing golf, we barbecue. You get my point, we eat, sleep and breathe barbecue, it’s our life.”
From those humble and convivial beginnings, Carolyn’s enthusiasm and dedication for barbecue soon became instrumental in legitimizing and preserving one of America’s most important culinary heritages. Her hard work was recognized when she was invited to Italy by Slow Food International to give a seminar “Barbecue is the ultimate slow food. We were honored to be a part of the slow food movement which is an international call to preserve and protect local food traditions from the threat of globalization and the fast food mentality,” says Carolyn.
Thanks to Carolyn and her team, barbecue is alive and kicking--well preserved and in no danger of extinction.
For more information about the KCBS, call 800-963-KCBS.